These Widespread Panic Fans Aren’t Sucking On Balloons Because They’re Feeling Festive


Saturday night’s Widespread Panic show at the Williamsburg Waterfront was capped by fans of the Georgia-based noodlers heading out into the neighborhood streets while sucking on brightly colored balloons—which were apparently filled with nitrous oxide—that they’d purchased from merchants who had set up shop outside the venue’s exit. This, as you might expect, is causing a bit of consternation among local residents, who are already unhappy with the crowds and noise and other side effects of the waterfront concerts. A few selections (unearthed by our Runnin’ Scared pals) from the nine clips chronicling the “post-concert drug orgy mob nightmare,” shot by someone with the not-at-all-taking-a-side YouTube user Id “StopOSAConcerts,” below.

Part I:

Part II (“You’re gonna be on YouTube… very classy”):

The finale:

“StopOSAConcerts” also sent a lengthy missive on the night’s happenings to NewYorkShitty. It reads, in part:

Desperate to find help, I ran without shoes down to the lone cop who was directing the very chaotic street and pedestrian traffic on Kent Avenue and N. 7th Street. I pleaded with him to send help because a huge mob had grown around the nitrous oxide balloon sellers. He had no idea what was going on. It was dark he couldn’t see up the block, it was noisy and he clearly had too much to deal with on his own. After pleading further, he finally seemed to get that I was serious. He said that he would and gave me the impression that he would call for help. But no one came. The mayhem went on unabated for nearly half an hour. No police came. Not one. Inexplicably, after about 20 minutes firemen were sent to clear the mob.

Many concerned members of the community have attended months of tedious and fruitless community meetings with Stephanie Thayer, Executive Director of the Open Space Alliance and other people from that organization. They claim they want to try to fix the problems with these concerts. Time after time they offer the most minor of concessions and it never makes a difference. But, there is no ‘fix’. The truth is that OSA’s concerts do not belong here and they have abused us long enough. These concerts have proven to be completely unmanageable in terms of community quality of life impact–the noise, disturbance, crowds, garbage, crime and so on. I speak for many when I say that we are sick and tired of our legitimate concerns constantly being downplayed and marginalized again and again. OSA is completely responsible for this horror show. But now they can no longer sweep it under the rug. These videos represent only a fraction of what we have been going through for the last 3 years. No one petitioned OSA to bring stadium-sized outdoor events to our area. All of this is forced upon us.

I’ve been to a few shows at the waterfront and while the cacophony is probably annoying to the people who live in the area, I’ve never seen outright lawlessness—just people being loud in a way not dissimilar to the people who walk down my street to get to the cafes on 30th Avenue in Astoria. But then again, I have also never seen balloon-borne narcotics at or after a show before, even though they are apparently a “thing!” People just get drunk and any high-producing consumables are generally “done” in bathrooms, and if there are large spherical objects around they’re probably beach balls of some sort. (Seriously, even The Big 4 show had beach balls come out at the end. Metal!) Apparently this particular drug is a problem at Widespread Panic shows—the band’s website has a warning against selling it at its concerts that reads in part, “If you purchase N2O you are likely supporting people who care nothing about the Panic community.” Here is what nitrous can do to you, via the probably biased but still chock-full of facts “Just Say N2O” nitrous oxide faq:

Physiological effects last a minute or two for a lungful of nitrous and then mainly dissipate. Some residual effects may last up to several minutes later. Unlike other drugs, the effects of nitrous very rapidly recede. As noted in 1845, “Those who inhale the Gas once, are always anxious to inhale it the second time.” When inhaled, nitrous produces a variety of physical effects including:

Disorientation (both spatial and time-based)
Fixated vision
Throbbing or pulsating auditory hallucinations
Similarly pulsating visual hallucinations
Increased pain threshold
Deeper mental connections
Lowered vocal pitch (opposite of helium)

You know what this means, though? The open-air 5 Hour Energy market to keep people awake after Saturday’s Fleet Foxes waterfront show is totally going to be shut down by the cops. Sorry, everybody!